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Highlights, July 19-26

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Blues in the Natural State Festival, A trip to the mansion, Bruce Barth jazz, Art Walk in Rogers

Blues In The Natural State
The Ozark Blues Society has lined up a top-shelf one-day music festival for the annual Blues in the Natural State event this Saturday at George’s Majestic Lounge. The music starts at 4 Saturday afternoon and will rock two stages until the wee hours of the morning. Talented blues musicians from around the country will converge at the Dickson Street club to offer a variety of blues sounds from acoustic, harmonic and blues rock for only $10. “Sunshine” Sonny Payne, host of King Biscuit Time radio show in Helena will be the emcee. King Biscuit Time is the longest running daily radio show in broadcast history. Payne has hosted the show since 1951. Among the performers will be Willie “Big Eyes” Smith who mined the Chicago blues sound in the early days, working as a drummer for Muddy Waters’ band from 1961 to 1980. Smith has won the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Award for best blues drummer a record eight times. Quebec native Tas Cru will bring his raw edged, slide guitar stylings for a late afternoon indoor show in the cool confines of the lounge. Also coming to town will be Little Joe McLerran & Robbie Mac who will kickoff the festival and the Mike Dollins Band. Joining Dollins will be local blues divas Ocie Fisher and Liz Lottman. One of NWA most popular blues bands, Leah & the Mojo Doctors, will start rocking the outdoor stage at 6 p.m., with the Earl Cate and Jimmy Thackery project closing the show.

Blues in the Natural State
Indoor stage
4 p.m. Little Joe McLerran & Robbie Mack
5:15 p.m. Tas Cru
6:15 p.m.  Mike Dollins Band with Ocie Fisher and Liz Lottmann

Outdoor stage
6 p.m. Leah & the Mojo Doctors
8 p.m.    Willie Big Eyes Smith
10 p.m. Jimmy Thackery / Earl Cate”Plus” jam at the end

Jazz Society hosts Bruce Barth
The North Arkansas Jazz Society will host jazz pianist Bruce Bart for an 8 p.m. show Friday at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Concert Hall. Barth recently landed the job as piano accompanist for Tony Bennett after Bennett’s long-time accompanist retired after 40 years. Barth was born in Pasadena, Calif., studied at the New England Conservatory and moved to New York in 1988. Since then, he has worked with Nat Adderley, Stanley Turrentine, Art Farmer, James Moody, Freddy Hubbard and Terence Blanchard, among others. He has played on more than 70 CDs.
For the Friday night performance, Barth will be backed by members of the jazz series’ house band, James Greeson on acoustic bass and Darren Novotny on drums. There will be a cameo appearance by the third member of the house band, Claudia Burson, who will do a two-piano showcase with Barth. Ticket are $12 general, $5 students and are available online at www.digjazz.com or at the door prior.

Road Trip to the mansion
If you’re thinking about a short road trip to Little Rock, an event at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday night, is a not-to-miss event. A musical fundraiser for Safe Places, a nonprofit organization that provides services to children who have experienced violent situations, will showcase the skills of four excellent acoustic guitarists. Performing will be Arkansas musicians Steve Davison, former Fayetteville resident, and the 2005 winner of the Arkansas Acoustic Festival; Danny Dozier, the 1991 winner of the Merle Travis Fingerstyle Guitar contest; and veteran musician Micky Rigby. Ken Bonfield of Magnolia, Mass. who has been featured on NPR and PBS will round out the show.  The $25 ticket price includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

All new Art Walk in Rogers
Downtown Rogers is kicking off a new monthly event this Friday. A Twilight Art Walk will take place the third Friday of each month from 4 to 8 p.m. New galleries and design businesses have opened in the historic downtown area and along with neighboring shops, restaurants, the Rogers Historic Museum and the Daisy Airgun Museum will extend their hours during the Twilight Art Walks. Street musicians will entertain and a Hummer will offer shuttle service.

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